Matching Items (11)
The horizontal desalination units belonging to the humidification-dehumidification family purify water using air as a carrier gas. The temperature required for separation can vary from ambient to 99 °C so waste heat, fuel combustion, or solar collectors can drive the process. A unit in which air flows horizontally affords several advantages over similar vertical “Dewvaporation” towers (as an example), including ease of construction and potentially increased efficiency. The objective was to build and test horizontal units and identify areas of potential efficiency improvements. The desalination units consisted of: 1.) A series of aligned, corrugated, polypropylene sheets covered on the outside with absorbent, water-wettable cloth. 2.) A basin that caught saline water flowing downward from the absorbent cloth. 3.) Ten pumps to cycle the basin water back onto the cloth. 4.) An air blower on the front of the unit that drove air horizontally across the cloth, increasing the humidity of the air. 5.) A steam generator on the back of the unit producing steam that mixed with the incoming air to increase the temperature and humidity. 6) A steam box that caused the air to mix with the steam and return to flow inside the corrugations in the plastic sheets, creating a countercurrent heat exchanger as the exiting air transferred its heat to the incoming air and causing purified water to condense from the cooling, oversaturated air. The tested unit produced distillate at a rate of 0.87 gallons per hour with 13 parts per million total dissolved solids and an energy reuse factor of 2.5. Recommendations include the implementation of a continuous longitudinal pump design, a modification of the basin to accommodate top and bottom unit center dividers, increase in insulation coverage, and optimization of air flow rate.
A low temperature amorphous oxide thin film transistor (TFT) and amorphous silicon PIN diode backplane technology for large area flexible digital x-ray detectors has been developed to create 7.9-in. diagonal backplanes. The critical steps in the evolution of the backplane process include the qualification and optimization of the low temperature (200 °C) metal oxide TFT and a-Si PIN photodiode process, the stability of the devices under forward and reverse bias stress, the transfer of the process to flexible plastic substrates, and the fabrication and assembly of the flexible detectors.
Mixed oxide semiconductor TFTs on flexible plastic substrates suffer from performance and stability issues related to the maximum processing temperature limitation of the polymer. A novel device architecture based upon a dual active layer improves both the performance and stability. Devices are directly fabricated below 200 ºC on a polyethylene naphthalate (PEN) substrate using mixed metal oxides of either zinc indium oxide (ZIO) or indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) as the active semiconductor. The dual active layer architecture allows for adjustment to the saturation mobility and threshold voltage stability without the requirement of high temperature annealing, which is not compatible with flexible plastic substrates like PEN. The device performance and stability is strongly dependent upon the composition of the mixed metal oxide; this dependency provides a simple route to improving the threshold voltage stability and drive performance. By switching from a single to a dual active layer, the saturation mobility increases from 1.2 cm2/V-s to 18.0 cm2/V-s, while the rate of the threshold voltage shift decreases by an order of magnitude. This approach could assist in enabling the production of devices on flexible substrates using amorphous oxide semiconductors.
Low temperature (200°C) processed amorphous silicon photodiodes were developed successfully by balancing the tradeoffs between low temperature and low stress (less than -70 MPa compressive) and device performance. Devices with a dark current of less than 1.0 pA/mm2 and a quantum efficiency of 68% have been demonstrated. Alternative processing techniques, such as pixelating the PIN diode and using organic photodiodes have also been explored for applications where extreme flexibility is desired.
Polymer-gold composite particles are of tremendous research interests. Contributed by their unique structures, these particles demonstrate superior properties for optical, catalytic and electrical applications. Moreover, the incorporation of “smart” polymers into polymer-gold composite particles enables the composite particles synergistically respond to environment-stimuli like temperature, pH and light with promising applications in multiple areas.
A novel Pickering emulsion polymerization route is found for synthesis of core-shell structured polymer-gold composite particles. It is found that the surface coverage of gold nanoparticles (AuNP) on a polystyrene core is influenced by gold nanoparticle concentration and hydrophobicity. More importantly, the absorption wavelength of polystyrene-gold composite particles is tunable by adjusting AuNP interparticle distance. Further, core-shell structured polystyrene-gold composite particles demonstrate excellent catalyst recyclability.
Asymmetric polystyrene-gold composite particles are successfully synthesized via seeded emulsion polymerization, where AuNPs serve as seeds, allowing the growth of styrene monomers/oligomers on them. These particles also demonstrate excellent catalyst recyclability. Further, monomers of “smart” polymers, poly (N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAm), are successfully copolymerized into asymmetric composite particles, enabling these particles’ thermo-responsiveness with significant size variation around lower critical solution temperature (LCST) of 31°C. The significant size variation gives rise to switchable scattering intensity property, demonstrating potential applications in intensity-based optical sensing.
Multipetal and dumbbell structured gold-polystyrene composite particles are also successfully synthesized via seeded emulsion polymerization. It is intriguing to observe that by controlling reaction time and AuNP size, tetrapetal-structured, tripetal-structured and dumbbell-structured gold-polystyrene are obtained. Further, “smart” PNIPAm polymers are successfully copolymerized into dumbbell-shaped particles, showing significant size variation around LCST. Self-modulated catalytic activity around LCST is achieved for these particles. It is hypothesized that above LCST, the significant shrinkage of particles limits diffusion of reaction molecules to the surface of AuNPs, giving a reduced catalytic activity.
Finally, carbon black (CB) particles are successfully employed for synthesis of core- shell PNIPAm/polystyrene-CB particles. The thermo-responsive absorption characteristics of PNIPAm/polystyrene-CB particles enable them potentially suitable to serve as “smart” nanofluids with self-controlled temperature. Compared to AuNPs, CB particles provide desirable performance here, because they show no plasmon resonance in visible wavelength range, whereas AuNPs’ absorption in the visible wavelength range is undesirable.
The problem of catastrophic damage purveys in any material application, and minimizing its occurrence is paramount for general health and safety. Thus, novel damage detection schemes are required that can sense the precursors to damage. Mechanochemistry is the area of research that involves the use of mechanical force to induce a chemical change, with recent study focusing on directing the mechanical force to embedded mechanophore units for a targeted chemical response. Mechanophores are molecular units that provide a measureable signal in response to an applied force, often in the form of a visible color change or fluorescent emission, and their application to thermoset network polymers has been limited. Following preliminary work on polymer blends of cyclobutane-based mechanophores and epoxy, dimeric 9-anthracene carboxylic acid (Di-AC)-based mechanophore particles were synthesized and employed to form stress sensitive particle reinforced epoxy matrix composites.
Under an applied stress, the cyclooctane-rings in the Di-AC particles revert back to their fluorescent anthracene form, which linearly enhances the overall fluorescence of the composite in response to the applied strain. The fluorescent signal further allows for stress sensing in the elastic region of the stress-strain curve, which is considered to be a form of damage precursor detection. This behavior was further analyzed at the molecular scale with corresponding molecular dynamics simulations. Following the successful application of Di-AC to an epoxy matrix, the mechanophore particles were incorporated into a polyurethane matrix to show the universal nature of Di-AC as a stress-sensitive particle filler. Interestingly, in polyurethane Di-AC could successfully detect damage with less applied strain compared to the epoxy system.
While mechanophores of varying chemistries have been covalently incorporated into elastomeric and thermoplastic polymer systems, they have not yet been covalently incorporated a thermoset network polymer. Thus, following the study of mechanophore particles as stress-sensitive fillers, two routes of grafting mechanophore units into an epoxy system to form a self-sensing nanocomposite were explored. These involved the mechanophore precursor and mechanophore, cinnamamide and di-cinnamamide, respectively. With both molecules, the free amine groups can directly bond to epoxy resin to covalently incorporate themselves within the thermoset network to form a self-sensing nanocomposite.
Ionic liquids (ILs), or low-temperature liquid salts, are a class of materials with unique and useful properties. Made up entirely of ions, ILs are remarkably tunable and diverse as cations and anions can be mixed and matched to yield desired properties. Because of this, IL/water systems range widely—from homogeneous mixtures to multiphasic systems featuring ionic liquid/liquid interfaces. Even more diversity is added when particles are introduced to these systems, as hard particles or soft-matter microgels interact with both ILs and water in complex ways. This work examines both miscible ionic liquid/water mixture and two-phase, immiscible ionic liquid/water systems. Extensive molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are utilized in conjunction with physical measurements to inform theoretical understanding of the nature of these systems, and this theoretical understanding is related to practical applications—in particular, the development of a low-temperature liquid electrolyte for use in molecular electronic transducer (MET) seismometers, and particle self-assembly and transport at ionic liquid/liquid interfaces such as those in Pickering emulsions.
The homogenous mixture of 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium iodide and water is examined extensively through MD as well as physical characterization of properties. Molecular ordering within the liquid mixture is related to macroscopic properties. These mixtures are then used as the basis of an electrolyte with unusual characteristics, specifically a wide liquid temperature range with an extremely low lower bound combined with relatively low viscosity allowing excellent performance in the MET sensor. Electrolyte performance is further improved by the addition of fullerene nanoparticles, which dramatically increase device sensitivity. The reasons behind this effect are explored by testing the effect of graphene surface size and through MD simulations of fullerene and a silica nanoparticle (for contrast) in [BMIM][I]/water mixtures.
Immiscible ionic liquid/water systems are explored through MD studies of particles at IL/water interfaces. By increasing the concentration of hydrophobic nanoparticles at the IL/water interface, one study discovers the formation of a commingled IL/water/particle pseudo-phase, and relates this discovery to previously-observed unique behaviors of these interfaces, particularly spontaneous particle transport across the interface. The other study demonstrates that IL hydrophobicity can influence the deformation of thermo-responsive soft particles at the liquid/liquid interface.
Environmentally responsive microgels have drawn significant attention due to their intrinsic ability to change volume in response to various external stimuli such as pH, temperature, osmotic pressure, or electric and magnetic fields. The extent of particle swelling is controlled by the nature of the polymer-solvent interaction. This thesis focuses on design and synthesis of environmentally responsive microgels and their composites, and encompasses methods of utilizing microgel systems in applications as vehicles for the adsorption, retention, and targeted delivery of chemical species. Furthermore, self-assembled microgel particles at ionic liquid (IL)-water interfaces demonstrate responsive colloidal lattice morphology. The thesis first reports on the fundamental aspects of synthesis, functionalization, and characteristic properties of multifunctional environmentally responsive microgels derived from poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAm) and other functional co-monomers. In particular, the uptake and release of active chemical species such as rheology modifiers into and from these ionic microgels is demonstrated. Moreover, a facile tunable method for the formation of organic-inorganic composites with Fe3O4 nanoparticles adsorbed and embedded within ionic microgel particles is explored. Additionally, the development of zwitterionic microgels (ZI-MG) is presented. These aqueous ZI-MG dispersions exhibit reversible parabolic swelling as a function of pH and display a minimum hydrodynamic diameter at a tunable isoelectric point (IEP). This study also elucidates the controlled uptake and release of surfactants from these particle systems. The extent of surfactant loading and the ensuing relative swelling/deswelling behaviors within the polymer networks are explained in terms of their binding interactions. The latter part of this thesis highlights the versatility of fluorescently labeled microgel particles as stabilizers for IL-water droplets. When the prepared particles form monolayers and equilibrate at the liquid-liquid interface, the colloidal lattice organization may re-order itself depending on the surface charge of these particles. Finally, it is shown that the spontaneously formed and densely packed layers of microgel particles can be employed for extraction applications, as the interface remains permeable to small active species.
Identification of early damage in polymer composite materials is of significant importance so that preventative measures can be taken before the materials reach catastrophic failure. Scientists have been developing damage detection technologies over many years and recently, mechanophore-based polymers, in which mechanical energy is translated to activate a chemical transformation, have received increasing attention. More specifically, the damage can be made detectable by mechanochromic polymers, which provide a visible color change upon the scission of covalent bonds under stress. This dissertation focuses on the study of a novel self-sensing framework for identifying early and in-situ damage by employing unique stress-sensing mechanophores. Two types of mechanophores, cyclobutane and cyclooctane, were utilized, and the former formed from cinnamoyl moeities and the latter formed from anthracene upon photodimerization. The effects on the thermal and mechanical properties with the addition of the cyclobutane-based polymers into epoxy matrices were investigated. The emergence of cracks was detected by fluorescent signals at a strain level right after the yield point of the polymer blends, and the fluorescence intensified with the accumulation of strain. Similar to the mechanism of fluorescence emission from the cleavage of cyclobutane, the cyclooctane moiety generated fluorescent emission with a higher quantum yield upon cleavage. The experimental results also demonstrated the success of employing the cyclooctane type mechanophore as a potential force sensor, as the fluorescence intensification was correlated with the strain increase.
The mitigation and conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) to more useful carbon chemicals is a research topic that is at the forefront of current engineering and sustainability applications. Direct photocatalytic reduction of CO2 with water (H2O) vapor to C1-C4 hydrocarbons has significant potential in setting substantial groundwork for meeting the increasing energy demands with minimal environmental impact. Previous studies indicate that titanium dioxide (TiO2) containing materials serve as the best photocatalyst for CO2 and H2O conversion to higher-value products. An understanding of the CO2-H2O reaction mechanism over TiO2 materials allows one to increase the yield of certain products such as carbon monoxide (CO) and methane (CH4). The basis of the work discussed in this thesis, investigates the interaction of small molecules (CO, CH4,H2O) over the least studied TiO2 polymorph - brookite. Using the Gaussian03 computational chemistry software package, density functional theory (DFT) calculations were performed to investigate the adsorption behavior of CO, H2O, and CH4 gases on perfect and oxygen-deficient brookite TiO2 (210) and anatase TiO2 (101) surfaces. The most geometrically and energetically favorable configurations of these molecules on the TiO2 surfaces were computed using the B3LYP/6-31+G(2df,p) functional/basis set. Calculations from this theoretical study indicate all three molecules adsorb more favorably onto the brookite TiO2 (210) surface. Diffuse reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (DRIFTS) was used to investigate the adsorption and desorption behavior of H2O and CH4 on Evonik P25 TiO2. Results from the experimental studies and theoretical work will serve as a significant basis for reaction prediction on brookite TiO2 surfaces.
Liquid-liquid interfaces serve as ideal 2-D templates on which solid particles can self-assemble into various structures. These self-assembly processes are important in fabrication of micron-sized devices and emulsion formulation. At oil/water interfaces, these structures can range from close-packed aggregates to ordered lattices. By incorporating an ionic liquid (IL) at the interface, new self-assembly phenomena emerge. ILs are ionic compounds that are liquid at room temperature (essentially molten salts at ambient conditions) that have remarkable properties such as negligible volatility and high chemical stability and can be optimized for nearly any application. The nature of IL-fluid interfaces has not yet been studied in depth. Consequently, the corresponding self-assembly phenomena have not yet been explored. We demonstrate how the unique molecular nature of ILs allows for new self-assembly phenomena to take place at their interfaces. These phenomena include droplet bridging (the self-assembly of both particles and emulsion droplets), spontaneous particle transport through the liquid-liquid interface, and various gelation behaviors. In droplet bridging, self-assembled monolayers of particles effectively "glue" emulsion droplets to one another, allowing the droplets to self-assembly into large networks. With particle transport, it is experimentally demonstrated the ILs overcome the strong adhesive nature of the liquid-liquid interface and extract solid particles from the bulk phase without the aid of external forces. These phenomena are quantified and corresponding mechanisms are proposed. The experimental investigations are supported by molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, which allow for a molecular view of the self-assembly process. In particular, we show that particle self-assembly depends primarily on the surface chemistry of the particles and the non-IL fluid at the interface. Free energy calculations show that the attractive forces between nanoparticles and the liquid-liquid interface are unusually long-ranged, due to capillary waves. Furthermore, IL cations can exhibit molecular ordering at the IL-oil interface, resulting in a slight residual charge at this interface. We also explore the transient IL-IL interface, revealing molecular interactions responsible for the unusually slow mixing dynamics between two ILs. This dissertation, therefore, contributes to both experimental and theoretical understanding of particle self-assembly at IL based interfaces.
Electrolytes play a critical role in electrochemical devices and applications, and therefore design and development of electrolytes with tailored properties are much desired to accommodate variety of operation requirements. Extreme temperatures are considered as one of the challenging environmental conditions, especially for devices rely on liquid state electrolytes, rendering failure of operations once the electrolyte systems undergo phase transitions. This work focuses on development of low-temperature iodide-containing liquid electrolyte systems, specifically designed for the molecular electronic transducer (MET) sensors in space applications. Utilizing ionic liquids, molecular liquids, and salts, multiple low-temperature liquid electrolytes were designed with enhancements in thermal, transport, and electrochemical properties. Effects of intermolecular interactions were further investigated, revealing correlations between optimization of microscopic dynamics and improvements of macroscopic characteristics. As a result, three low-temperature electrolyte systems were reported utilizing ethylammonium/water, gamma-butyrolactone/propylene carbonate, and butyronitrile as solvent with ionic liquid, 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium iodide, and lithium iodide salt. Consequently, the liquidus range of these systems have been extended to -108 ˚C, -120 ˚C, and -152 ˚C, respectively, marking the lowest liquidus temperature of liquid electrolytes to the author’s best knowledge. Moreover, transport properties of designed systems were characterized from 25 to -75 ˚C. Effects of selected cosolvent/solvent on evolutions of transport properties were observed, revealing interplay between two governing mechanisms, ion disassociation and ion mobility, and their dominance at different temperatures. Experimental spectroscopy characterization techniques validated the hypothesized intermolecular interactions between solvent-cation and solvent-anion, complimented by computational simulation results on the complex dynamics between constituent ions and molecules. To support MET sensing technology, the essential iodide/triiodide redox were investigated in developed electrolytes. Effects of different molecular solvents on electrochemical kinetics were elucidated, and steady performances were validated under a properly controlled electrochemical window. Optimized electrolytes were tested in the MET sensor prototypes and showcased adequate functionality from calibration. The MET sensor prototype has also successfully detected real-time earthquake with low noise floor during long term testing at ASU seismology facility. The presented work demonstrates a facile design strategy for task-specific electrolyte development, which is anticipated to be further expanded to high temperatures for broader applications in the future.